Archive for the ‘Arizona Game and Fish Department’ Tag

Utah insists wolf-coyote confusion won’t be a problem   Leave a comment

From:  The Salt Lake Tribune

Jan 11,. 2015 by Brett Prettyman

Courtesy | Arizona Game and Fish Department This wolf was photographed Oct. 27 near the north rim of the Grand Canyon. On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife confirmed through DNA analysis of its feces that it is a female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies that must have migrated 450 miles through Colorado and/or Utah to reach Arizona

Repercussions » N. Carolina was forced to change its policy after too many endangered red wolves were killed.


Utah wildlife managers and state attorneys insist Utah’s controversial coyote bounty program does not conflict with the Endangered Species Act.

But at least one other state was forced to change its coyote-culling hunt after too many endangered wolves were killed.

Potential crossover between Utah’s free-wheeling coyote hunt and the federal program for protecting animals threatened with extinction became clear last month after a hunter said he confused an endangered gray wolf for a coyote before he illegally shot and killed it.

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources continue to investigate the circumstancesthat left a collared, 3-year-old female wolf dead outside Beaver on Dec. 28.

Utah Assistant Attorney General Martin Bushman said the Endangered Species Act does “provide for instances where the [killing] of animals that look like other species” can happen. But that hasn’t happened in the case of gray wolves.

“Coyotes are not listed as threatened or endangered and the state maintains the authority to regulate the take however it wants to go about it,” Bushman said.

But there is a precedent for groups challenging the open hunting of coyotes in areas where wolves are protected.

Three conservation groups settled a lawsuit last fall after accusing the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission with violating endangered species protections by proposing nighttime hunting with lights and an unlimited take for coyotes.

Just 100 red wolves, a cousin of the gray wolf, live in North Carolina. Smaller than the gray wolf, the red wolf is closer to the size of coyotes.

According to the Animal Welfare Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, 20 red wolves have died from gunshots and hunting is suspected in 18 other wolf deaths since 2008.

Since 2012, the institute reports, five people have admitted they shot wolves thinking the canines were coyotes.

According to the News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, the lawsuit was settled when the wildlife commission agreed to keep coyote hunting illegal at night in five counties. Daytime hunting of coyotes would require a special permit. Furthermore, coyote hunting in the five counties will be suspended if two or more red wolves are shot in the same year on state game lands by people hunting coyotes.

The red wolf population is obviously more threatened by extinction than the gray wolf. U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimated 1,674 gray wolves were living in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming at the end of 2012.

Mike Jimenez, Fish and Wildlife’s northern Rocky Mountain wolf recovery coordinator, said gray wolves showing up near Beaver or on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a sign that the effort to restore their population in the West is working.

“Dispersing wolves take on a lot of charisma. People who like wolves get really upset when they are shot, and understandably so,” he said. But, “biologically, it is not a threat to the population.”

The name of the man who shot the wolf has not been released and it is not clear if the hunter was participating in Utah’s $50 coyote bounty program.

Utah lawmakers created the bounty as part of the Mule Deer Preservation Act in 2012.

Hunters who want to collect a bounty must register and follow procedures to collect their money, but there is no license required to shoot coyotes in Utah, where they are an unprotected species.


More than 14,000 coyotes were turned in for the bounty in the first two years of the program.

Nothing in Utah’s online bounty registration process helps hunters tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf. Nor is there information alerting hunters that they need to be aware of the possibility of seeing the endangered species in Utah.

Wildlife managers acknowledge that might change as the number of wolves visiting Utah grows.

brettp@sltrib.com

Twitter: @BrettPrettyman

 

Rare gray wolf seen at Grand Canyon may be dead   1 comment

From:  azCentral 12 News

Dec. 30, 2014 by Brenna Goth

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(Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

 

The federally protected female wolf seen last month near the Grand Canyon may have been shot and killed in southwestern Utah on Sunday, wildlife groups fear.

If that’s true, the first northern gray wolf seen in northern Arizona in 70 years has been lost.

A hunter shot the radio-collared animal over the weekend in the Tushar Mountains outside of Beaver, Utah, according to a release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The mountains are about 200 miles north of the Grand Canyon.

The hunter mistook the animal for a coyote, the agency said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not confirmed the wolf’s identity. But the Utah agency said the federal service identified the animal as a 3-year-old, female northern gray wolf. She was collared last January in Wyoming.

That description and the wolf’s location means she was likely the Grand Canyon wanderer, said Michael Robinson, wolf advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity.

That wolf, first seen in northern Arizona in October, has has been celebrated by conservationists as a symbol of hope for the species’ recovery. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the wolf traveled at least 450 miles to reach northern Arizona and was likely looking for food or a mate.

“Justice should be done for this animal,” Robinson said. “This shouldn’t just be brushed under the rug.”

MONTINI: Hooowl no! What this killing teaches us about wolves, and us.

Conservationists were early advocates for the radio-collared animal spotted and photographed by visitors and hunters on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon National Park.

State wildlife agencies worked together to track the animal after they discovered its radio collar was dead. They were originally unsure if it was a wolf or wolf-dog hybrid.

An animal seen north of Grand Canyon on Oct 27, 2014.

An animal seen north of Grand Canyon on Oct 27, 2014.(Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department)

 

In November, a genetic test on the animal’s scat showed it was the first Rocky Mountain gray wolf seen in the area since the 1940s.

Attempts to replace the wolf’s tracking collar were unsuccessful, though the agency said DNA tests could confirm its identity from previously captured wolves.

Gray wolves were once common in the area but disappeared in the early 1900s after being hunted and killed. Robinson said last month that the wolf’s presence proved the Grand Canyon was still a suitable environment for the species.

Sunday’s death — whether or not it’s the same wolf — is a setback, he said.

“Whether it was persecution or recklessness, it highlights that wolves still need protection,” he said.

The Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a full investigation into the Sunday shooting.

Conservation officials are still reviewing the case, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

 

Great Letters to the Editor! Lobo supporters call out AZ Game and Fish Commissioner in the press (posted 12/20/14)   Leave a comment

From:  Lobos of the Southwest

Dec. 15, 2014

Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is an excellent way to raise awareness about critically endangered Mexican gray wolves and the steps needed to help them thrive. Surveys of newspaper readers show that the letters page is among the most closely read parts of the paper. It’s also the page policy-makers look to as a barometer of public opinion.

AZ Republic, Phoenix
December 15, 2014

Politics trump science at Game and Fish

Chairman Robert Mansell of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission proposed that the wolf on the Kaibab Plateau in Northern Arizona is a result of a “radical environmental conspiracy.” (Letters, Dec. 7)

This confirms my suspicion that the commission does not utilize proper science when making decisions in regards to wildlife management.

The commissioner provides this conspiracy theory without providing the evidence to defend it. Wolves have been known to travel long distances without detection and this wolf, until proven otherwise, is no exception.

The commissioner also confirms what I have known for some time, that this commission is truly politically motivated. They should not use venues, like the largest circulating paper in Arizona, to expound their opinions.

MICHAEL SORUM
Scottsdale, Arizona

Arizona Republic, Phoenix
December 11, 2014

Commissioner’s Letter Disrespectful of Wildlife and Arizonans

Robert Mansell’s letter in Sunday’s Republic (“Wolf appears during controversy: Coincidence?,” Sunday Opinions) was as big a piece of groundless, inflammatory and uninformed claptrap as I’ve seen in quite some time. Mr. Mansell’s round-about allegation that a wild northern gray wolf was somehow “planted” on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona in an effort to divert attention away from impending decisions on wolf management is at best paranoid, and at worst downright disingenuous.

As Chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, it is Mr. Mansell’s sworn duty to “conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations” (per the Department’s mission statement). Yet Mr. Mansell seems to be GAME-ing the system and FISH-ing for excuses not to responsibly manage one particular species of Arizona’s diverse wildlife – namely, the Mexican gray wolf.

Mr. Mansell’s letter was both disrespectful and a disservice to the majority of Arizonans who support the successful reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf.

ED COLEMAN
Tempe

Many thanks and congratulations to these talented and dedicated letter writers-your letters make a big difference in the effort to protect and recover our lobos!

Please take this opportunity to help Mexican wolves by writing your own great letter to the editor!
 Submission information and talking points are here.
Click here to join our email list for Mexican gray wolf updates and action alerts.
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Donate to support our work for Mexican gray wolf recovery here.

 

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Steller: Lone wolf deserves chance to meet others   3 comments

From:  tucson.com – Arizona Daily Star

Grand Canyon wolf

Arizona Game and Fish Deprtment

November 27, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

She must be lonely, spending Thanksgiving weekend wandering the Grand Canyon’s North Rim all on her own.

She’s a fertile, female wolf, and finding a mate is likely the force that drove her southward from her home in the northern Rocky Mountains.

This is how Ed Bangs, a former federal wolf expert in that region, explained her likely motivation: “It’s looking for love,” he told The Associated Press. “It leaves the core population and doesn’t know the love of its life is going to be right over the next hill, so it just keeps traveling.”

If only there were some wolves nearby …

Of course, there are 83 of them — about 200 miles southeast in the White Mountains and adjacent areas of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. All that stands between her and them is the Grand Canyon and our wildlife bureaucracy.

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released documents that spell out some of the details of how they propose to manage the reintroduced Mexican gray wolves of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. That’s where efforts to reintroduce endangered Mexican gray wolves began in 1998 and foundered for more than a decade before the population began to grow again over the last few years.

The documents show that the service plans to expand the areas in which the wolves are allowed to wander — a welcome change from the strict boundaries and behavioral rules that Arizona Game and Fish enforced during the first decade-plus of the effort. The newly opened areas would include about half of Arizona, including all of the southeastern quadrant, as well as about a third of New Mexico, mostly in the southwestern part of that state.

But the service sets a strict northern boundary for the Mexican gray wolves at Interstate 40. So even if the expanded range were already in effect now, wildlife managers would still prevent wolves from roaming northwest toward the Grand Canyon, cutting the distance between them and this potential new pack member and mate. Wolves north of that line could be picked up and returned or even killed if necessary.

That’s a shame, because this female wolf is from a different subspecies of gray wolves. Her genes, introduced to the semi-inbred population in the Blue Range, would increase their genetic diversity and vitality considerably. It’s also a shame because it puts our abstract rules and boundaries on what could be a natural flow.

“Wolf geneticists over the last decade have been documenting that there was genetically a gradient from the Mexican gray wolf to the northern Rockies wolves,” conservation biologistCarlos Carroll told me.

In other words, there wasn’t a clear genetic distinction between Mexican gray wolves in the south and northern gray wolves, but rather a transition zone between, say, Arizona and Wyoming, where the wolves were less and less Mexican the farther north they were found.

“That old paradigm of drawing hard lines on a map to divide subspecies — that was typical of naturalists 100 years ago,” said Carroll, of the Klamath Center for Conservation Research.

He was a member of the group of scientists contributing to the Mexican gray wolf recovery team up until last year and was lead author of a paper on wolf genetics in the journal Conservation Biology published last year. Among its conclusions: “long-term prospects for recovery of gray wolves in the western U.S. may hinge on wolves being able to successfully disperse between widely separated populations.”

The paper also points to the Grand Canyon area, all of which is north of Interstate 40, as one of the most suitable areas for additional Mexican gray wolf populations.

Arizona Game and Fish, which helped mold this latest Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, argues there is reason to have a northern boundary.

In short, the idea is that “we want Mexican wolves where Mexican wolves were,” explained Jim DeVos, the assistant director of Arizona Game and Fish overseeing wildlife.

The scientific research describes the wolves as largely having been a creature of Southeastern Arizona, as well as adjacent New Mexico and Mexico, he said. But it would be difficult to draw a line at, say, Mount Ord in the White Mountains and say no wolves should go north of there.

I-40 “is north of the historic range and a logical demarcation for Mexican wolves,” DeVos said. “Why go north when the suitable habitat goes south?”

My question is: Why demarcate the territory at all? Having reintroduced these animals, why not let them do what they obviously do naturally — roam, run into each other, mate and create their own packs and populations?

Related document:  http://tucson.com/study-of-wolf-habitat-genetics/pdf_94d895ca-f733-5bde-904f-c756dfefef40.html#.VHsVdsYNFJk.email

 

 

Management Plan Is Sought For Area Wolf Introduction   Leave a comment

From: http://www.azjournal.com/2014/10/22/management-plan-is-sought-for-area-wolf-introduction/

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Francisco pack alpha female 511 was a member of the first Mexican wolf pack released in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests of eastern Arizona in March 1998.

By Tammy Gray

A heated meeting regarding the introduction of Mexican gray wolves south of Interstate 40 highlighted the efforts by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to push the federal government to create a management plan for the wolves.

Winslow City Councilman Marshall Losey reported that the federal plan has no cap on the number of wolves and does not include any sort of plan for managing the population, including attacks on livestock. He noted that, according to information presented at the Oct. 15 meeting, Arizona Game and Fish is working to find a balance between the $28 million federal wolf recovery program and the concerns of local residents.

“I believe they are trying to do the best they can for all of us,” he said. “I believe they are trying to help ranchers as much as possible to manage it.”

Losey noted that the general consensus is that the program cannot be stopped and the wolves are going to be released throughout Arizona, so the best course of action is to try to establish a plan that will limit the population and provide compensation for lost livestock.

“The thought is that there’s going to be a wolf rule one way or the other, so we better get on the right side of this,” he said.

Game and Fish had previously reached an agreement with the Cattleman’s Association for a cap of 100 wolves, but the department has now asked to increase that number to between 300 and 325. According to Losey, Game and Fish officials feel that the federal government will not accept a cap of 100.

“The feds have determined that 100 is not a viable number,” he remarked.

Approximately 35 area residents attended the meeting, which was sponsored by Arizona Game and Fish, and of those around 25 were directly involved in ranching. Some ranchers were opposed to the release of any wolves in the area, while others agreed that the best course of action is to work with the federal government to limit the number of wolves.

“Arizona Game and Fish’s stance is that an unmanaged wolf program will be disastrous. They are looking toward a compensation program for farmers and ranchers,” Losey said. “It’s a matter of trying to manage it rather than buck it.”

The current plan calls for the release of wolves across most of Arizona, including the areas south of Interstate 40 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is advocating releases to extend across the entire state as a means to ensure recovery,” Losey said.

The Navajo County Board of Supervisors recently sent a letter to the federal agency protesting the lack of cooperation with state and local governments in creating a plan for managing the wolves. The letter notes that although meetings were held with state and local agencies, no real cooperation or input was allowed. Navajo County contends that the agency is not complying with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act by refusing to work with affected government agencies.

“Specifically, to date, the service actions, or lack thereof, do not represent a genuine good faith attempt to develop an agreement, or even to actually work with the state and tribal agencies, local governments and stakeholders,” the letter notes.

Losey noted that the action could have a significant impact on many area residents.

“This is a great concern for many ranchers, farmers and outdoorsmen as an increase in the wolf population could have a significant impact on their livelihood,” he said.

He explained that although there may be little chance of changing the plans for the wolf program, the best hope is to work for changes to the Endangered Species Act, which was passed in 1976.

“I encourage people to contact their Congressmen,” he said.

Español: Lobo en el zoo de Kolmården (Suecia).

Español: Lobo en el zoo de Kolmården (Suecia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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